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Full text of "German Armored Assault Artillery"

D757.5 
U5 



U.S. War Dept. General Staff, G-2. 

German armored assault artillery. 
December 23, 1941. 



ARMY WAR COLLEGE 
CARLISLE BARRACKS, PA. 



MILITARY INTELLIGENCE DIVISION INFORMATION BULLETIN 

£. WAR DEPARTMENT, G>e»j/fv». * :*' : \ , ^ < No. 2 
Washington, December 23, 1941 !i ^ MID 461 



NOTICE 

The information contained in this series of bulletins 
will be restricted to items from official sources T?hich are 
reasonably confirmed. 

This document is being given an approved distribution, 
and no additional copies are available in the Military Intelli- 
gence Division. For provisions governing its reproduction, see 
Letter TAG 350.05 (9-19-40) M-B-M. 



\ GERMAN ARMORED 
ASSAULT ARTILLERY, 



SOURCE 

This bulletin is based upon the report of an American 
official observer in Berlin. Tha translated article, which deals 
with the employment of a battery of armored assault artillery 
of the "Greater Germany" Infantry Regiment on the French-Luxemburg 
border, originally appeared in Die Tfoche, a German weekly magazine. 

Intended propagandists effects should not be overlooked. 

CONTENTS 

1. TRANSLATION 



2. COISIENTS OF OFFICIAL OBSERVER 



GERMAN ARMORED 



ASSAULT ARTILLERY 



1. TRANSLATION 

"A motorized platoon, with 2 antitank guns attached, con- 
stituted the leading element of our advance guard as we marched west 
from Vance, which is 20 miles west of Luxemburg, to Etalle (figure 
l). As the vehicles approached Etalle on May 10, they encountered 
hostile armored scout cars, and during the ensuing engagement a re- 
port was received at regimental headquarters that Villers was occu- 
pied by French cavalry. The 2d Battalion was accordingly ordered to 
attack Villers immediately. For 3 hours they advanced toward the 
village, meeting increasing resistance, and were finally stepped at 
the eastern edge by strong hostile fire. 

"Meanwhile the 1st Battalion, with the armored assault artil- 
lery battery attached, had arrived at lleuhabich, where the battalion 
commander ordered a rifle company to make contact with the 2d Battal- 
ion. Advancing slowly south from Neuhabich, the rifle company fin- 
ally reached Villers, where it also met heavy resistance. The company 
commander, after considering the situation, sent the following oral - 
message to the rear: 'Assault battery to the front I 1 

"The 3d Platoon of the armored assault artillery battery 
dashed forward to engage in its first fight. The platoon commander, 
in his command vehicle, was followed by Assault Guns No. 5 and No. 6. 
The platoon encountered no resistance until it arrived at the center 
of town, where it received heavy machine-gun fire. Two rounds from 
each of the assault guns silenced the machine guns. 

"Assault Gun No. 6 went. into action, firing at the near-by 
buildings. One shell exploded in a courtyard among some French cav- 
alry horses. The animals which were uninjured galloped away, fright- 
ened by the explosion. 

"Assault Gun No. 5 swung into position in the churchyard to 
silence hostile machine guns which were firing from two windows in 
a large building closs by. The platoon commander ordered the gun 
commander to fire on this target, and two rounds from the assault 
gun served to silence them. 

"Finally, the enemy evacuated, the main street and the center 
of the town, but machine-gun resistance was renewed at the western 
edge of the village. Momentarily, it was thought that the , assault 
guns should be sent ahead again. But the riflemen and the partially 
armored antitank -weapons on self-propelled mounts were able to reduce 
this resistance unassisted. 

"The 2d Battalion remained in Villers during the night. Field 
kitchens were moved up, the men were fed, and medical personnel cared 
for the wounded. The 3d Platoon of the assault battery obtained some 



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rest just in rear of the front line, the men sleeping in their vehi- 
cles. The next morning, at 5 a.m.., the advance guard and the 3d 
Platoon of the assault battery moved out toward Mellier. 

"The armored assault guns soon reached a destroyed bridge 
across a tributary of the Semois River. The pioneers, although hard 
at work, had not yet completed their task here; but the guns managed 
to ford the river. The regimental commander, in order to get up to 
the front, took a seat in an assault battery munitions vehicle. 

"xifter fording the stream, the assault guns came to a barri- 
cade of tree trunks which obstructed the road leading up a slope in 
one of the southern spurs of the Ardennes Forest. The driver of 
Assault Gun No. 5, however, stepped on his accelerator, dashed against 
the obstacle, and opened the way. So far, no enemy had been encoun- 
tered. 

"The infantry was in the lead as the advance guard moved 
through Mellier into a beechwood forest beyond that town. Resistance 
was encountered at 10:30 a.m. at a clearing in the '.roods- The 1st 
Battalion, upon emerging into the clearing, was fired upon from the 
direction of Suxy. The leading conpeny deployed promptly and, sup- 
ported by an antitank platoon, began to advance, finally being check- 
ed at the stream just west of the town. The regimental and battalion 
commanders, accompanied by certain members of their staffs, observed 
the action from, high ground east of Suxy. Intense activity prevailed 
at the command posts. Heavy weapons were ordered up; tasks were as- 
signed, and positions designated. 

"As the heavy infantry weapons and armored assault guns were 
heard approaching from the rear, the battalion commander, in a quick 
decision, signalled his advancing reserve company to turn off and 
attack in the new direction. 

"Five minutes after the heavy weapons arrived, they opened 
fire. In the meantime, the armored assault artillery battery contin- 
ued to the front to assist the leading rifle companies. The riflemen 
slowly worked their way ahead, pressing hard .against the enemy, driv- 
ing him off of the high ground to the right front.. Finally, one of 
the assault guns moved up on to this commanding terrain and quickly 
fired 11 rounds at a range of 800 yards into a battery of enemy horse 
artillery going into action. The assault gun itself, however, was 
then taken under fire by a French antitank battery. 

"In the meantime, the German artillery opened fire and the 
battalion began to advance across the Vierre River. As usual, all 
the bridges had been destroyed and all the trucks had to be left be- 
hind, although the water was no obstacle for the infantry and the 
armored assault artillery. 

"After crossing the river, the advance, was checked again by 
resistance coming principally from a fortified house which stood along 
the route of advance. Assault Gun No. 5 went into action against 

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this house. The first round hit the lower left window; the second 
entered the attic window; the third went over the house but exploded 
among some retreating Frenchmen. 

"By 5:30 p.m. all resistance in this vicinity had been over- 
come. The French reconnaissance battalion, which had attempted to 
stop the regiment, was completely destroyed. 

"The advance continued, but the next 10 miles could be covered 
only by foot, for the trucks could not be moved across the river. The 
day's objective, however, was. reached at 9 p.m. 

"The performance of the armored assault artillery battery, in 
its initial engagements at Villers and Suxy, completely won the con- 
fidence of the infantrymen. In addition to giving support to the foot 
soldier in battle, this self-propelled artillery was also utilized in 
carrying light machine guns and mortars and in towing ammunition carts. 

"On the next morning, May 12, the regiment moved through St. 
Medard and Herbeumont. 

"On the following day, May 13, the regiment left Belgian soil, 
marching through Bouillon into the Bois de Sedan, and on the next 
morning it forced a crossing over the M'euse at Sedan, thereby clear- 
ing the road to the north for the oncoming panzer division." 

3. COUNTS OF OFFICIAL 

a. The personnel of the "Greater Germany" Infantry Regiment is 
especially selected. Initially, the bulk of men of this organization 
came from the Berlin guard regiment. The regiment is motorized and 
belongs to an S.S. division. 

b. The author indicates that in this particular engagement this 
assault artillery fulfilled the mission for which it was intended. 
Conversations with German military personnel and the context of other 
articles published in German military periodicals confirm the conclu- 
sion that this assault artillery gave important and timely assistance 
to the leading infantry elements on many occasions during the opera- 
tions on the 7/estern Front in the spring of 1940, 

c. Since this weapon is completely armored, it conforms to the 
commonly accepted definition of a tank. According to published ac- 
counts, this weapon, during combat, moved forward from cover to cover, 
keeping generally abreast of the regimental reserve. When the advance 
of the leading foot elements was checked by resistance beyond the 
capabilities of the infantry weapons immediately at hand,, the armored 
assault artillery was ordered forward along with other heavy infantry 
weapons and sometimes the regimental infantry reserve. When going 
into action, armored assault 'artillery vehicles sought suitable cov- 
ered positions in the front line, from which they delivered direct 
fire upon observed targets. It is not believed that they ever pre- 
ceded and cleared the way for the . foot elements. Consequently, these 



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weapons, as employed, are not comparable to accompanying tanks. 

d. It is probable that if the defending French forces had been 
liberally equipped with antitank mines and antitank weapons, they could 
have neutralized the efforts of the German armored assault artillery. 

e. The action east of Suxy is in accordance with the German prin- 
ciple that attacking infantry seeks primarily to seize commanding 
terrain, not only for observation and the employment of infantry weap-? 
ons, but also for the advantageous use of artillery. 

f. It is noted that in the attack east of Suxy, the commander of 
the 1st Battalion saved time by merely signalling to the commander of 
his reserve company to turn off his route of advance and attack in a 
new direction. Details of the action contemplated for this company 
could be furnished later by the battalion commander or his representa- 
tive. 



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